Former 92nd St Y Leader Apparent Suicide

Ousted after scandal, Adler discovered by wife days after successor appointed.

05/11/14
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Sol Adler was found hanged in his home. Via wn.com
Sol Adler was found hanged in his home. Via wn.com

Sol Adler, the longtime head of the 92d Street Y who was ousted last July in a corruption scandal, was found hanged Friday in his Brooklyn home.

Adler, 60, was found by his wife in their oceanfront Sea Gate home shortly after 11 a.m. Friday, the New York Post reported.

His died days after the 92Y announced that it had hired Henry Timms to succeed Adler as executive director.

The corruption scandal surfaced after an anonymous letter revealed that Adler had been having a long-term affair with his personal assistant, Catherine Marto.

It was also revealed that Marto’s son-in-law, who had been hired as the Y’s director of facilities, was fired for allegedly taking kickbacks from vendors. And several other employees were sacked for what the Y board said was “engaging in and failing to report suspected inappropriate behavior.”

Adler had been making $430,000 a year at the time of his firing after a two-decade career as director. At the same time the Y announced Timms’ appointment, it announced the hiring of Rabbi Peter Rubinstein of Manhattan’s Central Synagogue, to serve as director of Jewish continuity, a new full-time position.

Timms had served as the Y’s deputy executive director for innovation, strategy and content and had served as interim executive director after Adler was fired.

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Last Update:

05/14/2014 - 22:28

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Indeed, $430,000 a year ?!

Before my home was destroyed by hurricane sandy, I lived on the Adlers' block in Sea Gate, Brooklyn. He never passed me without a warm smile and hello. He was a family man and Jewish community leader, who was often called to the bima with his sons for an aliyah. He was helpful and caring, and his death will be another rock in the hearts of those who knew him and his beauriful family. May G-d, who understands what we cannot, judge his soul kindly,

I had the opportunity to work with Sol as a senior executive for many years at the 92nd Street Y. No matter what the circumstances that led to his decision this weekend, the entire situation is a tragedy. For the Adler family, for the 92nd Street Y, for the Jewish community, and for those of us who knew Sol, our hearts are broken by his decision that his future was hopeless.

Despite mistakes, Sol was a dedicated man who strongly believed (and correctly so) that the 92nd Street Y was a leading example of how an organization can enrich the lives of not only the Jewish community, but the entire community. While he and I certainly had our share of disagreements during our years together, never did I question his commitment to the 92nd Street Y, or more importantly, to building a strong Jewish community in New York and throughout the world. I learned much from Sol about the importance of community and remember many long hours working beside him to strengthen the organization.

To cite his list of accomplishments at the Y during his long tenure would make this letter far longer than appropriate. Suffice it to say, that many of the organization's innovations over the last two decades were initiated and/or supported by Sol. He took an organization whose profile in the most recent years leading up to his directorship had declined and restored it to its historic place of leadership in the New York Jewish community as well as the city's arts community. He built an outstanding team of professionals, many of whom have gone on to leadership roles in the Jewish community.

For some to believe that the job of leading one of the world's foremost institutions is easy or cushy clearly demonstrates that they have no idea what goes into that job. Each day, each hour, the demands of the job are constantly shifting...from fundraising to staff management, from fiscal leadership to programmatic innovation, from dealing with board politics to serving as an inspiration for others, few can realize both the skill and patience that it takes to lead such an organization. His compensation is irrelevant, although completely appropriate for the nature and responsibility of the job.

Yes, Sol made mistakes. Some personal and some professional. And yes, some of those mistakes were devastating to those who were affected. No one I know has tried to excuse or justify those mistakes. However at this point in time, continuing to harp on them as many seem to be doing, does not change the fact that a man who gave so much to the Jewish community is no longer with us.

If for no other reason than to be respectful of his grieving family and friends, let's put his accomplishments and commitment front and center now. He has a wonderful family who have and are suffering so much that we as a community need to be there for them, rather than making them rehash the past now.

I will certainly miss Sol, but now, is the time to pray for strength for his wife Debbie, children Ron, Louis, and Matthew, their spouses and children, and all those who benefited for so long by Sol's leadership. May we all be comforted among the mourning of Zion and Jerusalem.

I don't believe any of us are in the position to qualify someone's choice to end their life. Mr. Adler, with whom I worked for several years, was an authentically kind, caring man, committed to the 92Y community, regardless of his salary. He moved up from being an accountant, so I do not believe Mr. Adler at any time took his position for granted.
We all make mistakes, some we are more aware of than others. Let us not throw stones, friends. Simply because the media has chosen to convey one side to the story, does not mean that it is the truth in its entirety.
Rest in peace, Mr. Adler. I am so sorry you never got a chance to express your side of the story. I am sorry you felt so silenced that you had to hang yourself to show the community what it looks like to lose your voice. It’s my most sincere hope that the media might someday wake up with a heart as opposed to an over-sized ego salivating over a scandal. But...such is the world in which we live. I'd hope our Jewish values might have won over at some point.

Some are bright hard-working people who are successful. A cushion-ey position? What does that mean? Why would certain publication continue to mention an affair? Many men and women have affairs. Stop counting the hard earned money of others and focusing on personal business. I would check if your husband/wife has someone on the side. Count your own money and look at your own. We all live in glass houses. Stop throwing stones.

I would love to add a comment to this, but there is nothing to say really. The article says it all. 430k a year, 20 year career, we assume a suicide, - perhaps another example of taking something for granted until it isn't there anymore? I know in these financial times, the last thing I would ever want to do is to lose a low stress job, with what sounds like very little traveling, late hours, and daily fighting for survival, - for what I calculate to be $8,269.23 a week, and probably some benefits on top of that. I would have to assume that Mr. Adler regretted the judgement call he made to be involved with Ms. Marto, and the next call he made, which was to hire her son, who turned out to be less than completely ethical about performing his duties. I have to bet that once that job was gone, and his reputation besmirched somewhat, - he recognized the incredible value of it, and how irresponsible it must have been not to preserve it. And then there is the last decision, to evidently take his own life, rather than try and live like the many who do not make 430,000 in a cushion-ey position every year, and have to struggle to pay our bills and keep a roof over our head and some food on the table.

You should be ashamed of your comments. Sol Adler was a decent human being. Many would heap high praise on his character and might even refer to him as a "mensch." Your characterization of a "...cushion-ey position" indicates how little you understand about the enormous pressures one encounters when responsible for a multifaceted $50 million+ annual budget business; when you are responsible for making sure that that business drives the revenue through the doors, not to fill the coffers of some for profit corporate entity, but to assure that the critical programs and services they provide for the community are appropriately funded and that there is money in the bank to pay the thousands of people whose livelihoods and families depend on that business. Cushion-ey??? Not by a long shot! So take a giant step back and rethink your insensitivity. There is nothing but sadness in witnessing the excruciating pain that would lead someone to making the choice of taking his/her own life. And all you can focus on is his well deserved compensation? You should be ashamed of yourself.

Well-said.

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